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Three Essentials to Authenticity

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Talk about being authentic and, often you will hear this one: “We are in such a hurry to grow up, and then we long for our lost childhood. We make ourselves ill earning money, and then spend all our money on getting well again. We think so much about the future that we neglect the present, and thus experience neither the present nor the future. We live as if we were never going to die, and die as if we had never lived.” By Paulo Coelho

Most all our lives, we desperately struggle to find ourselves. We strive to live, and live out our lives exactly the way we want to but end up creating and living in contradictions. It is not that in the deepest of our hearts we do not know what we want. We do, but adapting and adjusting to a demanding world we let our true selves get corroded, get covered with gunk. Yet from deep within there is that being, that energy and that soul that yearns to fly, to go and grab a fistful of the sky and claim it as how own. 

In the history of mankind there have been a few who have flown so high and so purely in the skies of their own choosing. And, there are almost all of us who for scores of times in our lives have dug a window through that corrosion and that gunk that surrounds and made our presence felt. We have, at times, lived out our dreams and desires loudly and boldly. The question that arises is how do increase the frequency of these liberating moments and sustain them so that at the end of our days we can feel that, hey, I am ready to die because I have lived a full, fruitful and an authentic life. Inspired by an interview, I conducted of Dr. Peter Senge a few years ago, it struck me living an authentic life at work and in society when we:

Step Up: In all circumstances, especially the most challenging ones our options eventually get boiled down to just two. Should we take the well-treaded and safe path or should we step up and take the road less travelled. The roads less travelled, or the right decisions that will make us stand apart and away from others  are always packed with risk but the person who steps up to the calling of his inner voice, scales up the mountains of authenticity. Yes, it takes courage to be authentic. Yes, it takes gumption to stand up, speak up and move towards what your heart, mind and soul tell you are the right things to say and do.

Step In: Daniel Goleman in his book, Focus, talks about how a bunch of preachers-to-be on the road to take up tests in compassion and kindness totally ignore a homeless person on the street asking for help. In their case, it was probably about lack of awareness but often in life, we prefer to stay away from trouble that doesn’t belong to us. In a highly interconnected world most everything does, in a way, belong to us. The other day, someone sent me a video of some folks torching the tongue of street dog. The thought in my mind was why would someone take a video of that and not stop the carnage? Or, when we see others dumping toxic waste and plastic into our rivers why don’t we step in. Stepping in into murky situations, if our conscience calls for it, is the authentic thing to do.

Stand Tall: Dr. Peter Senge in that interview, available on you tube, claims that the eye cannot see the eye. We don’t ever know what the objective reality is because our perceptions, our lenses towards the world are tinted with our biases, our own agendas. Some of these, surely, are unconscious but a large number of those stains on our glasses are of our own making and the cleaner our windows are to the world the better we see it and the taller and prouder we can walk. Coming from clarity and approaching situations conscientiously will allow us to be ourselves, walk and stand tall in a volatile, uncertain, changing and an ambiguous world.  Said once my favorite childhood author, George Bernard Shaw, “Best keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you see the world.”

Authenticity is not just honesty, it is not just being frank and outspoken but being authentic is being true to you inner calling moment after moment. It is about stepping up to challenges, stepping into situations where the right thing needs to be done and also keeping your values and your visions clean.

We live in a world that is constantly changing. We do not have to be the change because every breath we take, every though we think, every word we utter and every action that we take creates change. We do not need to apply force neither do we need to use undue power. We just live out our life with authenticity and gentle influence.

Raju Mandhyan

Author, Coach and Trainer

www.mandhyan.com         Unleashing Inherent Excellence!

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The Subtleties of Authentic Influence©

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TODAY, I complete and count nearly twenty-one years since I entered the world of public and then professional speaking. Within the first year of being part of a very elite group of professionals at the Executive Toastmasters Club of Makati, the club appointed me president.

Surely I’d had some experience in leading teams, building businesses and even being the chief honcho of other business-oriented organizations but I’d never had the experience of being at the helm of a team made of people coming from different walks of life. A group made from diverse backgrounds, and with no material stakes and agenda in the organization except the fact that it was a self-learning volunteer group.

For groups such as this, the leader really has very little assigned power at his disposal and is needed to still drive, succeed, and make the organization flourish.

Towards this end, I thankfully, consider myself to have been blessed to have an amazing mentor and coach in the form of the group’s former president, one Mr. Horacio S. Sese. Nicknamed Rexy, as many people in the Philippines are, he used to hailed as “Sexy Rexy.”

Rexy used to have this amazing way of making me think, visualize, verbalize, and then act and follow through with what was needed, what was productive, and everything that moved the team forward. A team that was loosely gelled, tender, and had haphazard stakes in doing so. I must also add to this that whatever Rexy guided me into doing was also always ethical and in service of others, something bigger than myself.

Though it has been over twenty years since then, here are a few subtleties about Rexy, about Authentic Influence,  and his styles which led me to perform better and grow:

Reputation. In my first few interactions with him, I picked up cues that Rexy knew what he was talking about and doing. Much more important than my own assessment of him almost everyone spoke well of him and looked up at him. This kind of presence and reputation isn’t and wasn’t downloadable from any source but it had been built over the years brick by brick and inch by inch. It was rock solid, dependable, and his reputation always walked into the room way before the person behind it did.

Respect. I was and still am twenty years younger than him. I was and still might be twenty years greener than him in many areas of life and in a world where power is wielded hierarchically; Rexy never let these differences show. For him, in reality, they did not exist and he treated me and all with others with massive courtesy and respect with every little word and every little micro-gesture. He never spoke at me. He did not highlight my lack of experience and know-how. He never disturbed my time without first seeking my permission.

Rapport. You can already guess by the fact that he allowed young and old to address him as “Sexy Rexy,” that he was also a fun and easy-going guy. There was barely any hot air in his hairy head. He had this uncanny ability to meet people in their own way, at their own level and use lightness and respect to win their trust and rapport rapidly. Regardless of how unique, urgent or ambiguous the tasks at hand were, Rexy made it a point to acknowledge and care for the person behind the task, namely me.

Research. This probably is not the precise word for the point I am trying to make but it fits into the theme and the scheme of things. Every time there was work to be done or little tasks that were probably behind time, Rexy’s conversations would start with exploring the background of the tasks at hand. After that he’d explore my thoughts and feelings about the work at hand. Gently, then he used to check if I had the resources and the support. Towards closing the conversation he’d get confirmations in such a way that would make me feel as if I were the lead and as if all the ideas were of my generation and which, in fact, was usually true. In our conversations, his open-minded, exploring way of guidance had me bursting with ideas and intentions to flourish. He never ever delegated. I owned and was accountable for all that I put out.

Request. Now just in case, wherever he had a need and not that I remember him having any, his mode, his demeanor was, always, as if he were making a request. I didn’t know how he did that. I don’t know where and how he acquired such a skill set but it was and still is mind-blowing. Over the years I have tried to imbibe that behavior and that demeanor and I am not sure if I have it. It is is a powerful competency and shall always remain on my wish list of things I want to be. I want to be like Rexy the Sexy.

In a world, today, that has exploded into the virtual domain where people live half their lives stuck to their smartphones and laptops; where social and business interactions thrive in the digital space these five subtleties of Authentic Influence can and will always rule all forms of dealings and interactions.

Your abilities to authentically influence the marketplace and your stakeholders will depend on your reputation, respect for them, rapport with them; your abilities to research their needs and turn your own needs into humble requests will make you social and business leaders who innovate and influence authentically.

On Saturday, the 18th of August, at 9:00AM Philippines, I am running a no fee webinar, please drop by and pick up or add a few things to the subject of Authentic Influence. Here’s the link for signing up:  Authentic Influence© by Raju Mandhyan